Unless you haven’t seen my video for ’10 Of The Most Exciting 2017 Releases We Can’t Wait For’ (shameless plug), my overall most anticipated film for next year is undoubtedly the ninth entry in the continuing franchise juggernaut that is Star Wars. And with the imminent arrival of the prequel movie Rogue One next month, we can begin to start-up the mass hype train – ready for Christmas next year.
One of the only negatives I took away from attending Star Wars Celebration in London earlier this year (which was astounding, mind you), was the lack of any new information on the as yet-untitled Star Wars – Episode VIII. But it hasn’t slowed anyone down in the realm of widespread predictions, pondering and in some cases utterly mind-boggling theories on what we can expect, when the battle between The Resistance and The First Order rages on come December 2017.
With that in mind – I’m going to run through 6 Big Questions I have for Star Wars – Episode VIII.
1. What Will Be Luke’s Legacy?
The final shot of the movie, following Rey’s multi-step ascent of the ancient Jedi Temple, seems to suggest that Luke Skywalker is extremely apprehensive (and by all counts, a tad miffed) about taking his place back in a world that he left behind some years previously. However, if he indeed does take hold of that lightsaber – what is his place now?
Will he confront his nephew in a standoff reminiscent of Obi-Wan & Vader after their, ahem… history? Will he remain in his self-imposed exile and offer to train Rey much like his master before him? It’s a pretty safe bet that at least one of these events will unfold. Though I see more wealth in having Luke emerge as a larger part of the film. Convening at the Resistance base, and lending a helping (metal) hand. Perhaps interact with multiple characters again? Those he hasn’t seen for years – like Chewy, Leia, R2 or good old Snap Wexley.
Sure, they probably don’t know each other, but Beard Bros for life!
2. Finn’s Past
John Boyega’s FN-2187 was one of my favourite characters throughout The Force Awakens. He is a complex young man, driven by a desire and a motivation to seize back and craft his own legacy. During a recent re-watch I began to wonder if Rian Johnson’s script would further explore Finn’s time in The First Order. The gruelling training, the conditioning techniques, the internal struggles that these faceless henchmen undoubtedly go through. It would be fitting to see Finn’s story in Episode VIII culminate in him truly cementing his place in The Resistance.
The concept of a ‘humanised’ Imperial Trooper was an inspired idea and we only had a brief taste of why his loyalties were switched. This would certainly allow more screen time not only for the defecting Storm Trooper, but also potentially for Gwendoline Christie’s Captain Phasma, and to a lesser extent General Hux. The former being criminally underused in the previous film.
3. From Heir to the Jedi Kingdom to the Knights Of Ren
Why did Kylo Ren fall to the Dark Side? This is perhaps one question with a straight-forward answer – seduced by The Dark Side, and anyone who says that would be right. But I’m more intrigued in discovering the build to this. We know a small part of his history with Luke and that he was bound for immeasurable success. And it is interesting to perceive that the relationship went South after Supreme Leader Snoke began to intervene, sensing great power in Ben Solo. I think this plot point is ripe for so much exploration.
Drawing comparison between Vader and Kylo is validated in many ways. The key difference I find is that with Adam Driver’s portrayal alone it illuminates such complexity and tragedy to Kylo Ren, that it really extinguishes any merit in the display shown by Hayden Christensen as Anakin Skywalker.
There is an interesting moment during TFA, where Han Solo suggests to Leia Organa that Ben is ‘too much’ like Darth Vader, which would also suggest that Kylo Ren will somehow find redemption. However if he indeed did ‘fall’ much like his Grandfather before him – what exactly drove him to it and how did Luke, Han, Leia, and even Chewbacca factor into it? Which also leads into….
4. What’s Wrong With Your Face?
Supreme Leader Snoke is one of the more enigmatic characters from The Force Awakens. Who seems to have raised a ridiculous amount of questioning regarding his origins, his connections to the wider Star Wars universe and ultimate motivations. His relationship with Kylo Ren, being one of the most
mysterious and often speculated since TFA was released. Snoke is only seen on-screen via a giant hologram projected within a towering chamber at Starkiller Base. But we do get a very close and personal look at his rather jarring deformities.
A possible misuse of The Dark Side of The Force, maybe? Palpy was good at that. Snoke’s knowledge of the Force could also lend weight to a theory of him suffering the injuries as a result of a lightsaber fight. The large vertical scar that reaches down his forehead gives a strong suggestion to this. Now I do not believe for one second that Snoke is a pseudonym being used by another known figure. Not Darth Plageuis, not The Emperor, not Mace Windu (seriously, people are saying Mace Windu) . Simply because I find it hard to believe that the writers, including Johnson and J.J Abrams, would want to essentially repackage an old character just to fool us. It would be an absolute waste of an opportunity to craft something new and intriguing into the series.
5. Is Rey Bound For The Dark Path?
Not many people I know have picked up on this. During my first viewing of The Force Awakens in the thick of the climactic snow forest duel between Rey and Kylo Ren, I noticed a very distinctive shift in Rey’s demeanour. After she is literally on the brink of death – bargained by Ren before subsequently overpowering him, Rey begins to show a far more aggressive and violent edge. A callback to Luke Skywalker’s defiant attack on his father at the end of Return Of The Jedi. Reducing Vader to a cowering shell of what he once was and lopping off his little robot hand – just to add insult to injury. Incidentally in TFA, Rey delivers a rather nasty lightsaber strike direct to Solo Jr’s face, permanently scarring him – like Grandpa Skywalker.
The lingering shot of Rey, standing triumphant over Ren, is both powerful and suggestive of what kind of future may lie ahead for her. For all those years spent abandoned on Jakku, you couldn’t blame her for unleashing some of the suppressed anger and fear that has without question been festering at the back of her mind. Has Rey unwittingly begun to utilise less than favourable aspects of the Force? And will people like Luke or Maz Kanata register this?
(And yes if you didn’t guess, I’m 100% confident Rey is Luke’s daughter.)
6. A Small Step In A Larger World
The original series follows the classic 3 act structure. A beginning – the introduction to the story, its central characters etc. The middle – the time of peril and a test for our heroes. And the ending – the resolution and triumph of good over evil. If Star Wars – Episode VIII were to follow this classic structure, following in the lead of The Empire Strikes Back, then we are likely to see a more emotionally charged and potentially downbeat or defeatist conclusion to the film. But in what kind of form should this take?
The backdrop of a huge battle in the reaches of outer space between multiple X-Wings and TIE Fighters would be most welcome by yours truly. But as we all know, Star Wars‘ true heart lies with its characters. Overall, the plot needs to demonstrate this. This revived universe, brought back from the depths of a Death Star reactor shaft, needs to create an even wider landscape. The Republic’s various systems agonising and fretting from the consistent oppression of The First Order and its central figureheads. Furthermore, the effect on the political landscape itself that it has made would be worthy subject matter to include and where exactly General Leia’s role stands. Ironically, the topic of politics was in abundance during The Phantom Menace, but was completely disregarded in The Force Awakens.
It does beg the question. If the Empire was seemingly destroyed and overturned by the Rebels 30 years ago – then how exactly did The First Order rise to prominence in the interim? And are there any specific characters directly linked to this?
So those are 6 of my biggest questions for Star Wars – Episode VIII. What do you expect to see when the film is released in December next year?
Before then, you can get your Star Wars fix next month – When Rogue One: A Star Wars Story arrives in UK cinemas on December 15th.